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After much delay, Senate clears FAA bill

By Senior Congressional Producer Ted Barrett
updated 6:36 PM EST, Mon February 6, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Senate OKs bill to provide about $16 billion a year for FAA
  • Negotiations over the bill repeatedly stalled over contentious labor issues
  • President Obama expected to sign bill into law

(CNN) -- After passing 23 temporary extensions, the Senate voted 75 to 20 Monday to approve a long-term funding bill for the FAA and sent it to the president for his expected signature.

The measure provides about $16 billion a year for FAA operations, airport construction and modernization. It includes safety measures, such as a new satellite-based system for air traffic control, as well as other aviation programs, like one that subsidizes air travel to rural areas.

Negotiations over the bill repeatedly stalled over contentious labor issues that congressional leaders finally compromised on in January. Last summer, airport construction projects were halted abruptly when funding temporarily lapsed after Congress couldn't agree on a new extension.

"Compromises in the current atmosphere are not easy," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, who chairs the senate committee that handled the measure.

"This has been a long process," agreed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, the top Republican on the committee. Hutchison said she was pleased to get a four-year funding measure finalized because it will provide stability to the industry.

"Now our airports are going to be able to start their building projects. They're going to be able to increase their runway space or repair whatever their priorities are that are decided by the FAA," she said.

The House approved the bill Friday.

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